Forza Motorsport 7 review: braising the bar

Has everything the simulation-craving automotive enthusiast desires and more without being revolutionary in any way

Forza Motorsport 7 is upon us now and while it feels like an evolution of its predecessor, it’s probably currently the most desirable driving/racing game you can buy. It’s got everything a game-playing automotive enthusiast could want: 700+ cars which are fully moddable and customizable, breathtaking graphics with 4K support, dynamic-ish weather with dynamic puddles that form on the track, excellent, well-judged car handling whichever level of difficulty you choose and exciting white-knuckle racing both on- and off-line.

Again, it’s not revolutionary especially if you’ve played Forza Motorsport 6, yet it builds on all areas of its predecessor and is objectively a better and more fully-featured game. But now with the drastic increase in the number of available cars, there’s even more emphasis on collecting cars and your collection score is now an important indicator of your progress through the game.

But let’s break it down into manageable chunks to see what it’s all about, including its parts that are not so great.

Forza Motorsport 7: The good

With over 700+ intricately detailed motors to choose from, it’s harder to not find a car to tickle your fancy than it is to find one. The roster has refreshing variety and the thrill of buying or winning a new car in Motorsport 7 is unmatched, as you know it’s going to be a completely new driving experience compared to what you’ve previously tried. For me, just driving a freshly acquired car on an empty track to see its handling intricacies is a huge draw and a major replayability boost.

Then there’s the fun of modifying your car and turning it into whatever you want - the fact that you can do drivetrain swaps and engine swaps basically means any car can be anything. Want to make a rear-driven classic Mini drift car? No problem. How about an all-wheel drive twin-turbo grip monster Ferrari 458 time attack car with proper downforce and slick tires? You bet.

The game offers a total of 32 different tracks and a decent selection of 200 different variants which you can drive on. The weather effects also add an extra dimension to the racing experience - the fact that lap-on-lap conditions change and one apex may have a puddle one time and it could be gone by the next lap for me really added to the immersion; avoiding puddles on a wet race track is what you do in real life and I’m happy it’s made its way into the game.

The singleplayer campaign is quite agreeable and nowhere near as tedious as in some other similar titles, offering a seemingly random selection of quick championships based around different themes, using a specific group of cars and styles of racing. Among these you also have special events which may or may not involve actual racing: limo bowling or passing as many old VW Beetles in a Porsche 918 among many others.

The multiplayer is another highlight, and while on our PC version it was hard to set up (we had to meddle with Windows registry settings in order to get it to connect) it is so much fun that we’ll forgive this technical hiccup. Online racing is fantastic, a truly wonderful experience if you have the fortune to join a server where no crashers are present and active.

Graphical detail and fidelity are tremendous in Forza 7. It is genuinely a borderline photorealistic experience playing it, with superb high-res textures, awe-inspiring skyboxes and very well done particle and weather effects. It’s all just beautiful to behold, pure virtual car porn eye candy.

The bad

It may be one of the best car games of the decade, but Motorsport 7 isn’t perfect.

First, out of the claimed 700+ cars, some are doubles disguised as special or “Forza Edition” vehicles which usually only feature some sort of special body kit or something minor to distinguish them from their stock counterparts. This is only a minor niggle, but don’t expect to find exactly that many unique cars in the game.

Another thing I noticed during my playthrough was the fact that during racing there are literally no rules. You can crash into opponents with clear intent, cut the track to your advantage yet the game won’t penalize you in any way, which is kind of at odds with its serious, enthusiast-focused tone. 

The introduction of mod cards that give you bonus boosts if you achieve certain tasks during a race is neither bad nor good in my view, but the fact that you have to spend in-game cash on loot boxes is just silly. Loot boxes are such a fad these days and Forza would have been better off avoiding them and look for something more complex than slot machine mechanics for the dissemination of bonus content.

Next up on the list of negatives is the absence of any and all stock road-going Toyotas in this game. This includes Lexus, in case you were wondering.

Tracks in the game, while diverse on paper are really mostly just improved carryovers from Forza 6 and will be instantly familiar to anybody who’s played the previous game. The selection felt way too predictable to me and I never really understood the inclusion of buggies and other off-road ready vehicles, yet no dirt tracks or roads to properly exploit them on.

Regarding the car collection emphasis of the game, it’s slightly annoying that some cars are locked until your collection score reaches a certain level, or even worse yet some cars you can only win - they are indefinitely locked otherwise.

Final bad marks go to the annoyingly long load times (on our test PC with 64 Gb of RAM), the short but still annoying time it takes to load in cars in the car selection screen and the slightly mad AI which often has the tendency to be overly-aggressive and ram you off the track.

It would also have been nice to have a race engineer feature like you get in Project Cars 2. In that game you can task your race engineer to change the behavior of your car (make it more willing to powerslide out of corners) and it will be done without you having to tinker with wheel toe, caster and other things novice drivers definitely won’t have a clue about. Oh, and there’s no way to manually turn on the headlights.

The bottom line

None of the above manage to ruin the game, though, not even by a long shot. What is in the game is very well done, nicely polished and a lot of fun to play with. It has huge diversity of cars which look and handle great, graphics are mesmerizingly pretty, it caters for players of all skill levels and it’s just an homage to how great driving a great set of wheels on a proper piece of tarmac is all about.

There are some areas that could be improved upon, although not massively, and Forza Motorsport 7 is without a doubt a standout title in the driving/racing genre, one of the best I’ve ever played. It is expensive, especially if you opt for some VIP-esque version of the game which will also make the progression easier, and you will be required to periodically shell out for DLCs, but overall it is one car-centric title which you really shouldn’t miss out on.

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